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Kiwi towns

Waimate top 10 things to see & do

  • 6 minutes

Waimate, Canterbury

South Canterbury towns to explore

Enjoy walks from easy dog friendly, child friendly to stunning hilltop climbs. Heritage fans will relish delving into a snapshot of New Zealand’s nineteenth century past. Unearth Maori rock art in New Zealand and the stories of nineteenth century chiefs. Savour the taste of local pinot noir as you relax in a nearby vineyard. Relish the taste of country cheeses. Shop among second hand shops, boutiques and general merchandise stores catering for the agricultural heartland of Canterbury with art and craft surprises nestled next to a basic hardware store.

  1. Walks

Explore the town mascot with its sweeping rural views. The Whitehouse Track starts at the carpark at the top of Point Bush Road.  The track is steep in parts, rising from 145 to 400m. Follow the signs indicating walkway track. The track climbs grassy slopes, before joining an old logging track, through remnants of Totara forest and emerging into modern day pine plantations. Shared track with mountain bike enthusiasts.



Waimate's White Horse, New Zealand @Stuff / John Bisset
Waimate's White Horse @Stuff / John Bisset

The White Horse monument is one man’s vision of a tribute to the Clydesdale horses Norman Hayman, retired farmer.  It took Norman and his wife, Betty, three months to lay 1220 concrete slabs. The 2.5 ton head was precast in Ron Hutt’s yard.  The final cost was $240, met by donations from ‘old time’ farmers, teamsters, and others who admired the Clydesdale horse

Other walks include Garlands Track starting at the town centre. The tree lined walk offers summer shade and follows the Waimate Creek between Point Bush Road bridge and Garlands Road bridge. Dogs on a leash and mountain bikers share this track.

For other walks check the travel pack information section.

  1. Heritage trail

Edwardian splendor is captured in the streetscape of Waimate. The heritage trail brochure is located in the travel pack section. Waimate is a must see destination for lovers of religious architecture with the cemeteries offering a glimpse of the narrative of settlement and difficulties facing people before the era of modern medicine.

Te Waimate chapel exterior
Te Waimate chapel exterior
@Waimate Museum Archives
@Waimate Museum Archives
  1. Waimate Museum and Archives

The Waimate Museum and Archives is a treasure trove for researchers and heritage buffs with 11 historic buildings, including the 1879 courthouse, jail and stable and old school house spanning colonial architectural history. The small gift shop sells local publications and handcrafted greeting cards featuring local landmarks and scenery.



Passionate locals ensure the BOOKARAMA keeps the funds ticking. The major fundraiser, held over Labour Weekend each year. Donations of books, magazines, jigsaw puzzles, children’s books, and any items for the white elephant stall are gratefully received. Please contact the Museum office to arrange a drop off at our Machinery Hall. Donations accepted throughout the year.

The museum and archives are a wonderful memory bank for the district, and a must-see for visitors and researchers. Location: Shearman Street, Waimate.

  1. Public art

A gallery of street art on public buildings and striking silo art together with art galleries showcasing local talent. Waimate has plenty to offer art buffs after unique and unusual pieces to add to their collections.

Waimate public street art @Waimate
Waimate public street art @Waimate
  1. Maori Rock Art

Maori rock art is found in the underhangs of limestone outcrops at Maungati. The huge Te Manunui – the great bird – along with fish and moa.

Te Manunui rock art site is located on the farm property between 215 and 275 Frenchmans Gully Rd, Maungati. The site is publicly accessible from Frenchman’s Gully Road. For this heritage site further details are available from Search the List | Te Manunui Rock Art Site.

Te Aha – guided tours

For guided tours by local experts contact Our Tours Explore Aotearoa / New Zealand’s first art galleries – where haunting images were painted on the walls and ceilings of limestone caves by our ancestors many hundreds of years ago. Follow in their footsteps, share their stories, immerse yourself in local Ngāi Tahu culture TE AHA MAORI ROCK ART.

Point Bush Ecosanctuary @Point Bush Ecosanctuary
@Point Bush Ecosanctuary
  1. ​Point Bush Ecosanctuary

A conservation project to protect native birdlife and flora in South Canterbury, New Zealand. The 90-hectare forest is home to wild kererū, pīwakawaka, tūī and kārearea, who are now frequently seen at Point Bush as native forest has been protected and enhanced over the past 30 years. When you visit you can make use of the extensive public walking and mountain biking trails. The sanctuary is a non-profit and all donations and proceeds go directly back into conservation projects.

  1. Lake Wainono

A diverse range of wetland birds from black swans, pied stilts, paradise ducks, royal spoonbill, white herons, wrybills and grey teal frequent the lagoons and wetlands covering over 376 hectares. There are boardwalks and gravelled walking tracks. The boulder bank between the wetland and ocean is a great place for kids to explore.

  1. Parks & reserves

Waimate District has beautiful public parks and reserves, from manicured perfection at Victoria Park and a leafy arboretum at Knottingley Park. The parks are great places to visit in spring and autumn with the vivid displays of colour.

  • Victoria Park is a nineteenth century masterpiece of landscaped grounds with a contemporary children’s playground, sporting facilities, bird aviary and wallaby enclosure.
  • Knottingley Park is a great place for photographers to capture spring daffodils. Thousands of bulbs create a burst of nodding yellow flowers. Dogs are allowed on a leash however take care as sheep graze under the trees.
Wallaby, New Zealand
Waimate wallabies, an instagram favourite
Waimate wallabies, an instagram favourite
  1. EnkleDooVery Korna Wallaby Park

INSTAGRAM FAVOURITE ALERT. Gwen Dempster-Schouten also known as ‘the wallaby lady’ has been hand-rearing orphaned young wallabies since 1977. Hand feeding the wallabies is a popular visitor attraction. Visitors can wander through enclosures with the wallabies as well as feed and photograph wallaby families. EnkleDooVery Korna has bantams, possums and rare breed Finlayson sheep. No visit would be complete without viewing the historic trappers hut.

Open Check Waimate Wallabies — Explore Waimate District for up to date details.

  1. Chicken Wire Creations Sculpture Garden

Fun place to visit with quirky wire sculptures and the missing piece in your garden. Track down Chicken Wire Creations – Unique Creative Designs and Commissions. Quirky Magpie represents homeware, curated locally inspired craft goods, flowers, soap, vintage goods and collectables. A source of inspiration for the hard to please gifts or something to remind you of your holiday.


Travel pack information

Heritage trail

History buffs and fans of 19th century stories will not be disappointed in Waimate’s story of the emerging colony. Check the Waimate historical self-guided walking tour brochure and look for the plaques describing the story of the buildings and people. The Waimate Historical Society Museum and ethnographic collections are a great rainy day activity.

Waimate nearby heritage trail

Strawberry Trail is a heritage driving route in the Waimate District.

Bushtown Waimate is a replica Edwardian town, under development, bringing the logging past of Waimate to life. Featuring a steam sawmill, bushman’s hut and miniature train. While not regularly open to visitors it has occasional events featured on local social media.

The following information is largely sourced from the Waimate Things to do in the Waimate District — Explore Waimate District

Waimate Old Cemetery, 1871

Established in 1871, the Waimate Old Cemetery covers an area of 2.33ha. The headstones tell the stories of the early settlement of Waimate. The scourge of tuberculosis, influenza and scarlett fever is reflected by the inscriptions.

In October 1871, the Canterbury Provincial Council set up a board to establish the Waimate Cemetery. Board members were; Michael Studholme, Leonard Price, John Manchester, James Bruce and John O’Keefe. The earliest grave markers were made of wood and Waihao stone. As the settlement prospered, other New Zealand stones including granite were used, along with granite from Cathiners in Scotland and Carrara Marble from Italy.

An Information Board just inside the gates of the old cemetery highlights ten of Waimate’s early settlers buried there.  Numbered markers also indicate the way to their headstones.

Download a self guided walking tour map here.

McNamaras Road, Waimate.

St Paul’s Methodist Church, 1888 @Explore Waimate District
St Paul’s Methodist Church, 1888 @Explore Waimate District

St Paul’s Methodist Church, 1888

Now a private home.

Contains memorial windows (1929) to the district’s pioneers including the Manchester Brothers, John and George, who were the founders of the church.

John Manchester was the first Mayor of Waimate. Other windows include one to Samuel W. and Eliza Goldsmith ‘Zealous of Good Works’, and to Alpheus and Anna Hayes.

Quinn’s Arcade, 1906

Quinns Arcade was built in 1906 by William Quinn – who had a brickworks at Makikihi – and was designed as an indoor shopping arcade of 12 small shops running between High and Grigson Streets.

The shopping arcade wasn’t a success, so in 1918 it was remodelled into a movie theatre and billiards hall. The theatre opened in 1920 and operated successfully until a fire in 1955.

Since that time the arcade has been used for a range of shops and storage. (Information from the Waimate Historical Museum and Archives).

Knox Presbyterian Church, 1934

The first church was built in 1874, was of wood in Gothic form and was built on this site. It was demolished in 1933 to make way for the present church, built 1934, 60 years to the day from the laying of the foundation stone of the old church – 12 March 1874. The foundation stone of the old church is set in the wall at the back of the apse. Most of the stone for the church was taken from the river bed near McCulloch’s Bridge, with the inclusion also of stone from the Waituna and Hook districts served by the church. The communion table, timber in the roof of the apse, and the rafting were preserved from the old church. The two memorial windows in the front of the church and the circular window above them, the pipe organ, as well as the bell tower that can be seen at the top of Manse Street are also from the old church.

Corner of Shearman and Manse Streets, Waimate.

Knox Presbyterian Church @Brian Miller
Knox Presbyterian Church @Brian Miller

Nichol and Sons Empress Flour Mill, 1890

This mill was established by Robert Nichol in 1890, close to the Waimate Railway Station (closed in 1966). Five hands were employed producing annually 300 tons of flour for local consumption, and 1000 tons for shipment. The Waimate flour won first awards in open competition at the Anglo-Japanese Exhibition in London, 1910, at the Festival of Empire, London, in 1911, and at the Auckland Exhibition 1912-14. The company expanded its storage, opening the Waimate silos in 1921. Unfortunately, soon afterwards, the Government introduced a quota on wheat outputs. The outcome was that the company sold its plant to the Waimate Transport Company Ltd, and wound up the business.

Queen Street, Waimate.

The Waimate Silos @Stuff / Jihn Bisset
The Waimate Silos @Stuff / Jihn Bisset

The Waimate Silos, 1921

Before the White Horse monument was built, Waimate’s main landmark was the wheat silos, which opened in 1921 to serve the Waimate Flour Mill.

Wheat is part of the enduring story of Waimate – the first flour mill was established at Willowbridge in 1875.

The silos were built next to the Nichol and Sons “Empire” Roller Flour Mill when more storage was needed. But soon afterwards the mill was closed and the silos weren’t used at that time. Later, in 1955, sacks of wheat were stored on the silo floor.  And later again, Flemings Company installed sleeves in each silo bin, with a storage capacity of 4000t for wheat, barley and oats.

Grain is still grown in the district, but today’s crops are usually carted immediately to Timaru, or stored in silos on-farm.

The silos are 35 metres high, including the little ‘house’ on top, and are now painted with incredible murals. Learn more here.

Kapua Moa Site

Information panel on Kapua Road describing the find of moa bones. It was a lagoon and known as “lake of Mirrors” or “the clouds turned around”. The Kapua birds all died naturally, over several generations. It was a feeding area dotted with spring holes connected to a groundwater supply. The birds at Kapua have been dated from 1014-714BC

Jeanie Collier Grave, 1861

Granted a land licence in 1855 she farmed the area with her three orphaned nephews. Her grave was marked with a headstone in 1955, in a reserve of gum trees. Location: HorseShoe Bend Road, Otaio.

Cruickshank statue, 1923

Second woman to graduate in medicine in New Zealand and first woman to practice medicine. She died on November 28, 1918, a victim of the flu epidemic. Dr Cruickshank is the only person commemorated in the district by a marble statue of herself. The statue was unveiled in 1923, and bears the inscription ‘The Beloved Physician, Faithful Unto Death’. She is also represented on the painted silos. Location: Seddon Square, Queen Street Waimate.

St Patrick’s Church, 1908

The catholic church is significant for its rose window; three bell towers cast in Belgium together with fourteen “Stations of the Cross” paintings are originally from St Mary’s Church at Makikihi. Hannah is the name that was given to the magnificent pipe organ.

Dr Marget Cruickshank @University of Otago
Dr Marget Cruickshank @University of Otago

Maori Cemetery

Originally TeWaimatematehapu (tribe) had seasonal camps in the nineteenth century a permanent settlement arose. Chief TeHuruhuru died in 1861 and was buried within the cemetery enclosure. The sites of individual graves, including that of TeHuruhuru, cannot be pinpointed precisely. In 1934 the cemetery was taken over by the Waimate Borough Council and a monument was erected to mark the burial place of the Chief and other members of the Maori community. The monument is surrounded by native bush and is also near the site of the first Maori church that was built in Waimate in 1860. Location Point Bush Road, Waimate.

St Augustine's Church in Waimate, New Zealand
St Augustine's Church in Waimate

St Augustine’s Church, 1872

Matai and totara trees were hauled from the Waimate forest in 1872 to build the church.

Designed by Benjamin Mountford, the church was built by J.W. Gaitt and G. Dickson for 350 pounds.  The distinctive St Augustine’s lantern tower was built by S. Collett, using local kahikatea, when the church was enlarged in 1889. Among the beautiful stained glass windows is one on the side of the sanctuary based on the design of Sir Edward Burne-Jones, a leading artist.The church has two of New Zealand’s few stained glass windows designed and manufactured by the English firm of Morris & Co. In 1902 the Lych Gate was given by Mrs Michael Studholme in memory of her husband and their two sons. Location: John Street, Waimate.

St Mary’s Church, 1880

One of the loveliest of South Canterbury’s churches, St Mary’s Esk Valley was designed by the Christchurch architect B.W. Mountford and built of limestone from the Albury district.

The church had its origins in tragedy.  In 1878 Ellen, the young wife of Charles Meyer, owner of Blue Cliffs Station, died following an operation. Charles Meyer instructed his trustees to build the little stone church to fulfill his wife’s wish and to her memory. The church was consecrated in May 1880 by Bishop Harper. The interior is rich with colour from windows dedicated to members of some of the early European settler families in the district. Location Church Hill Road off Esk Valley Road.

Stone Cairn, Hook Beach

Erected in memory of the unexpected meeting on 16 January 1844 between two early European travellers. Bishop Selwyn, heading south on his first big trip around the South Island, met Edward Shortland, sub-protector of Aborigines, who was travelling north compiling the first census of South Island Maori.  They camped the night together at Hook Beach.

The concrete monument was built by members of the Waimate Historical Society, and unveiled in 1969 by the New Zealand Maori Bishop of Aotearoa, the Right Rev Manu Bennet.

Hook Beach. Turn onto Hook Swamp Rd from State Highway 1, and then turn on to Hook Beach Rd.

Stone Cairn, Hook Beach @Explore Waimate District
Stone Cairn, Hook Beach @Explore Waimate District

Hakataramea Station Woolshed, c1868

This building is a category 1 historic place on the Heritage New Zealand register.

The woolshed, a T-shaped building of limestone, originally with 24 stands, dates from around 1868, when the Land Company took over the property.  It is the only completely stone woolshed in South Canterbury. The shed featured a slatted floor, familiar nowadays, but at the time this was seen as a novelty.  It is still used as part of a working farm, although not for shearing sheep.

Hakataramea Valley Road.

Chief Te Huruhuru Monument @Waimate 2gether
Chief Te Huruhuru Monument @Waimate 2gether

Chief TeHuruhuru Monument, 1934

TeHuruhuru, of Waitaha, Kati Mamoe and Kai Tahu descent, was chief of TeWaimatemate Pa.

In 1854 TeHuruhuru met Michael Studholme and came to an agreement with him about the new settlers’ occupation of the land.This monument was laid in 1934 to commemorate the meeting place between Chief TeHuruhuru and Michael Studholme.  It was officially opened by Joseph Thomas TeHuruhuru (grandson) and E.C. Studholme (son). The painted silo overlooking the monument also commemorates this meeting.

Junction of Queen Street & Gorge Road, Waimate.

Paterson’s Cottage, 1880

Paterson’s Cottage, is an historic building visible from the Waimate-Hakataramea Highway (SH82), between Waimate and Kurow.

This cob cottage is believed to have been built about 1880 from Penticotico clay and tussock.

The original cottage had a main room with an open fireplace. A loft which would have been the sleeping quarters ran the length of the building. Behind the main room, was a lean-to running the length of the building; historians state it would have been the kitchen area.

The building has been restored by local supporters and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

State Highway 82, Hakataramea.

TeWaimate Woolshed, 1855

Category 1 heritage listing states the original section was built by Michael Studholme and his brothers in 1855. Dazed timber and pit-sawn totara has its distinctive saw marks. In the peak period of station history nearly 100,000 sheep were shorn annually in the shed. Early steeplechasing events were run from the shed over the nearby fences.

Permission is needed by the owners to view.

TeWaimate Station, State Highway 82, Waimate.

Te Waimate Woolshed @Explore Waimate District
Te Waimate Woolshed @Explore Waimate District

Ancient hills still on the move

Towards the coast, the area is full of limestone deposits that are rich in fossils.

Braided rivers intersect the landscape, gathered from the watershed of the Hunters Hills and the Southern Alps.The district has a number of nationally and internationally significant fossil sites at Benmore, Hakataramea, and Waihao Downs.

Read about local man Robert White’s fossil collection, and tours here


Working the land

Norman’s experience with horse teams began on his parents’ farm during his early school days at Studholme. He left school at 15 to work on the farm. ‘I had to get up at 5.30 in the morning and bring the horses in to give them two hours of solid feeding and grooming. Then at eight o’clock sharp the chains were tightened and work began until noon.

‘The horses had their own built-in time clock because they would always try to knock off one round before noon. At half-past five in the evening I would cover the horse up and sometimes head off for a dance.’

Waimate White Horse lookout seat to take in sunset view
Waimate White Horse lookout seat to take in sunset view

Norman’s research with the Ministry of Agriculture,showed  that Clydesdales were well – established in the Waimate district before 1900. By 1918, the peak year of the working horse population  there were 351,544 draught horses in New Zealand – 8,233 of them in Waimate district. By 1921 the number had dropped to 319,034. But by 1965 – 66 the tractor had taken over completely, and no draught horses were listed.

‘The terrific strength of the draught horses was clearly demonstrated to me when I purchased my first tractor,’ Norman wrote. ‘Three horses could pull a dray load of shingle from the pit, but a presumably powerful tractor could not.’

Norman died in 1988, and his contribution to the district through this iconic memorial will always be remembered.

Source: Weekly News 23, 1969, Lloyd Kenyon ‘

Cited in The White Horse — Explore Waimate District.

Eat & drink waimate

Deli Goods – whitehouse cheese shop

Grab country style cheeses and a gift pack for a picnic at Victoria Park.

Point Bush Wines

Around every corner in Australia and New Zealand is a local tipple. Waimate has robust reds as a favourite. Cellar door sales and tastings. The vineyard supports the Ecosanctury Bush Point with a donation for every sale.

@Point Bush Wines
@Point Bush Wines


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